Wine producer hopes for vintage career in the trade
FUTURE PROOF: Argentinian WinesFrom being thrown in at the deep end of a business he had to learn from scratch Tom Lynch is now making award-winning wines, writes JOANNA ROBERTS
WHEN TOM Lynch’s father Michael passed away he was faced with a stark choice: sell the business or retrain as a wine maker.
“I was the only one in the family in the position to take it on,” says Tom. “I was working as an EU policy analyst for a think tank and so it was quite a career change. But as a business it was very attractive and interesting, and there was also the challenge of working for myself. And it was a really nice idea to continue what my father had started.”
Michael Lynch established a vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina in 2005 after falling in love with the region while on holiday.
A former commandant with the Irish Army, Michael had spent the previous eight years running a hotel in Rathgar, Dublin, where he developed an interest in running the bar and sourcing wine. “He bought a greenfield site and employed a winemaker, although he had a lot of input into the style and taste of the wine,” says Tom. “It was a bit of a shot in the dark but Dad always did everything with a large degree of ambition.”
In 2008, just as the winery was gearing up to produce its first vintage under the El Comandante label, Michael fell ill and passed away, leaving his family with a nascent winery and the question of what to do next. “I tried to run the business part-time at first but that just wasn’t feasible,” says Tom. “I needed to go in full-time and have some formal training.”
Tom gave up his policy job and threw himself into learning about wine. He travelled to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to visit established wineries, before spending time at the operation in Mendoza.
“Initially I genuinely didn’t have a clue how wine was made. It gave me the opportunity to visit wineries of different sizes and find out the different options open to me.”
On his return to Ireland, he completed his WSET (Wine Spirit Education Trust) courses to consolidate his training.
“Until then, my learning was haphazard and I’d focused on new world wines. The courses gave me an understanding of old world wines as well.”